So is Elite Dangerous a time suck? A missed opportunity or what? Seems like a potential great game based on the description...
This game is one of those "make what you will of it" types. There's not much direction. You're given a small ship and told to do your thing. The game has some semblance of missions that pay you money but for the most part it's up to you to decide what you want to do and how you want to earn money. It's up to you how you spend that money and what style of gameplay you choose (pirate, smuggler, trader, explorer, etc.). The galaxy in the game is literally HUGE. My main mission in the game when starting out was to visit the Sol system and it took me weeks to get there with my style of play. And even then I couldn't visit because I didn't have a Sol permit yet (you get this at level 4 with the Federation).
Exploration is amazing and extremely realistic. We're not talking about bullshit No Man's Sky style generation where every planet you come across looks identical and has an atmosphere and life. This is vastly unexplored and uninhabited space, but there are a lot of interesting things to find out there. If you've ever wanted to actually explore other worlds then this is as real as it gets.
If you have the patience and time to put into it I highly recommend it. It's too bad I have a 9-5 job otherwise I'd be playing it more. It's a beautiful game.